“Getting to work on a story like ‘Star Wars’ and having Clone Troopers in your everyday, is not the norm. Filoni admits. “I started on a great show, ‘King of the Hill,’ but going to art school and drawing four guys drinking beer by a fence wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
It doesn’t take much to realize that working on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is Filoni ever wanted. In an interview he gave last year, he openly admits he was a diehard Star Wars fan since childhood. In last week’s column, he also stated he left one heck of a great job, that of episode director on “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” to make the move to Lucasfilm.
He openly acknowledges nothing goes on the show without the approval of George Lucas, but that doesn’t seem to bother him in the slightest. After all; without Lucas, there would be no Star Wars.
That doesn’t mean Filoni doesn’t have input. From the sounds of things, a lot of what’s going down this new season are the inventions of either him or series editor Henry Gilroy.
“I think we’ve developed a lot, too,” Filoni says about him and Gilroy. “For me, it’s all part of the growing process. I have to do it over a very long period of time, all the while knowing where Anakin is at in ‘Attack of the Clones’ going into his future. When Henry Gilroy and I started, we treated it more like a standard Saturday morning cartoon. The question really though was what is a Star Wars cartoon? Is it necessary to treat it the same way?
“As George and us developed our relationship, as well as pushing our animation just to see what we could do, a lot of the Droid humor that we used early on started getting in the way. As it turned out, a lot of that was being put in as an afterthought. It was just being added. Now the comedy is much more mixed in like the classic movies. It flows through the scene. That started at the end of season one and is really there in season two.
“We do things in season two that are on a scale we couldn’t even imagine in season one. It would have been literally impossible with the assets we have and the abilities when we started the series.”
As discussed with actress Ashley Eckstein, one of the characters who will be maturing considerably is Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s young padawan introduced with the Clone Wars movie.
“She’s still in the 14-15 year range,” says Filoni. “The idea is in the first two seasons to try to get a lot of stories in with her. Ahsoka is kind of the gauge of where we are at in the war; her attitude towards it, her relationship to Anakin.
“In the first movie, she’s kind of bratty. She thinks she knows what she’s doing. She doesn’t particularly want to listen to Anakin, and Anakin isn’t particularly interested in having her as his padawan. Also, in the past, Ahsoka really doesn’t take responsibility for her mistakes. She’s very skilled and adept, but she has to grow into a slightly more realistic direction.
“Now in season two, they get along really well. We’re going to be checking in where Anakin is checking in with this whole relationship with people, droids and friends in general. How are we gauging that? With Ahsoka. In the movie, the whole point Yoda had was if Anakin can learn to teach Ahsoka, and see that she’s self-reliant, Anakin will learn a valuable lesson. That’s a whole continuing story going on with those characters.”
As stated before, one of Filoni’s major accomplishments is that he got the first season out at all and on time. The studio was barely assembled when he came over from Nickelodeon. With everything now running smoothly, he has high expectations for the second season.
“First off all, the stories are more intense,” says Filoni. “Also, the emotional connections are going to be far greater than they have in season one. Now they know the new characters, like Ahsoka, and they are going to see them develop under extreme situations. We hope they will be worried about them.
“You will also see a lot of development in the animation. The faces, the rendering, the lighting; we at Lucasfilm have tried to push the animation to the next level. We will continue to try to push that envelope.”
One of the ways that Filoni got around this was through superlative voice casting. Aside relative rookie Eckstein, the voice cast includes such elite names as Dee Bradley Baker ( the clones), Corey Burton (Cad Bane, Lord Dooku), Anthony Daniels (CePO), Tom Kane (Yoda, narrator), Tom Kenny (Nute Gunray), Matt Lanter (Anakin) and James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan).
“I’ve been extremely fortunate with the voice actors on ‘Clone Wars,’” says Filoni. “They’ve all been extremely talented. I really have a small group that I like to work with. So what I like to do is when a new person comes in, they are kind of inducted into the Star Wars universe and then use them for multiple voices.
“Corey can definitely do multiple voices. He’s so knowledgeable and has such a history of voice acting. Now George had a specific way he wanted Cad Bane to sound. He wanted a kind of Peter Lorre kind of tone. I just knew I could describe this to Corey and he could come up with a voice, and he came up with a brilliant one. From there, we just put this bizarre effect over his voice, we garbled it a tiny bit, so it would sound like it comes from those breathing tubes.
“You know, it’s really hard to come up with voices for villains. You don’t want them to all sound like Darth Vader. It also has to sound iconic. He can’t just look menacing and have the deep voice. Cad is more weasel-y. Then his Count Dooku alone is just priceless, too. He also does Xiro The Hutt as well. Talk about one end of the spectrum to the other. That’s range right there.”
When coming to the future of the season, Filoni tries to keep the plot lines close to his vest. Still, with a little prying he does drop a few more clues.
“There will be more independent episodes,” he admits. “What I can say is everyone we’re going to see the war on a much broader scale.
“Another thing we should expect is another look at the Clones, much like ‘Rookies.’ We are going to continue in that tradition of doing Clone-centric episodes. I think we’ve developed the characters of the Clones. Also Dee Bradley Baker has done an amazing job with them and their characterizations, and as a crew we loved it as has the fans. So we will continue to do the war from there perspective.”
While there apparently won’t be a new episode featuring just Yoda, Filoni says we should see some other Jedi’s getting their own star turns.
“The scene in the cave in ‘Ambush,’” Filoni recalls, “that harkens back to the Yoda I grew up with. I really love that scene. We will also continue to do it from different Jedi. We will want to show how different their perspectives can be. We will break down the idea that all Jedi are these stoic, quiet people that are emotionless. We will show the different ranges of them.
“Again, this is building the war from many different perspectives. It will hold to one thing Obi once said, and that was the truth we behold is larger than our own point of view. This war is a lot more complex than you ever imagined. It’s not all black and white, Clones vs. Battle Droids.”
In this week’s episode, Padme is sent on a mission to root out an undercover spy. The thing is it could be a former “romantic interest.” As seen by the preview trailer, Anakin isn’t thinking too much of that. When Dave Filoni stated he was going to be exploring the various relationships inside his universe, he’s truly serious about it.